How To Build Links In 2017

How To Build Links In 2017

There are many ways to build links in 2017.

Some techniques are ‘legitimate’, ‘white hat’ and ‘natural’, and many – perhaps most – are classified as ‘black hat’. Such techniques violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and are labelled ‘web spam‘.

This link building guide is for beginners – it’s not a guide on how to spam Google.

Off page SEO, such as link building, can be a tricky business and, for some, is a tactic to avoid altogether. Some would claim that is because Google has, very successfully, equated linkbuilding with web spam, and the industry news machine is started almost entirely – all the time – and fuelled by Google PR saying something or enforcing its quality guidelines.

Not all link building is web spam and in fact, building links in 2017 is still an incredibly important aspect of search engine optimisation.

It is just not the only thing to focus on.

High-quality links do not live in isolation from a high-quality product, service or website.

What Are ‘Natural‘ & ‘Unnatural‘ Links?

In link building, A natural link is a freely given editorial link and an unnatural link is a link you make yourself. Both affect rankings in Google.

  • Google is on record saying it does not want to count any link that is not editorial.
  • Google wants to reward high-quality ‘user value add’ content that has earned organic or natural links. They want to reward a ‘good user experience’, basically – and unnatural links don’t form any part of that concept.
  • Google never has wanted to count manufactured links – but its algorithms don’t work as well as they would like or at least, they say they do. So, some marketers shortcut the ‘value add’ task of the job and just build unnatural links to a site. This affects how a links-based search engine – like Google – rates the ‘popularity’ – and so ranking ability –  of a particular website.
  • The more links Google hasn’t classed as spam – the higher you rank – and the more traffic you get. Sort of.
  • The type of links Google wants to count does not scale easily, and in fact, the type of links that scale easily are exactly the type of links Google wants to (at best) ignore or retroactively punish the violation. Perhaps that is the whole point.
  • Critics will say this is because SEO is the biggest ‘threat’ to Adwords, Google’s sponsored advertising channel – but if Google didn’t take action on industrial scale manipulation – it would make the existence of their guidelines redundant.
  • If a link is manipulative  – it is spam – according to the Googleplex.
  • You don’t need machine automation to be classed as a spammer. Somebody sitting at a desk making these low-quality links all day – manually –  to fool only Google – that’s spam too – manual or not.
  • Posting lots of low-quality guest posts or low-quality press releases on sites with a history of spamming Google – that’s spam too. It all comes down to the end product – the type of link you generate as a result of your activity.
  • If links are designed ‘JUST’ to manipulate Google – Google calls them unnatural links – and if you have too many of them – you get a ‘penalty’ – or at least swept up in the carnage of the next negative algorithm update designed specifically to de-rank sites with those kind of links. Ranking adjustments, I think, could be based on how long you got away with fooling Google – and what Google thinks that deserves.
  • The website link building industry was largely based on that kind of unnatural link building activity. Many still do practice those techniques now, clearly, ignoring the guidelines. I know the first links I ever ‘built’ would today be labelled ‘unnatural’ today – and so would my first optimisation techniques – but it’s a recognisable trend in Google what’s grey hat SEO today is black hat seo tomorrow.
  • Take note that if it works to manipulate Google without you jumping through the value add hoop in the middle of that strategy, which Google demands you jump through – it’s spam. In short, it is evident if it is a scalable approach to manipulating Google – it’s spam.
  • The professional services industry, which is led heavily by the Google PR machine, has little chance of deviating from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, for fear of, some say, Google’s heavy handed approach.

How Link Building Has Evolved

Just before April 2012, after years of Google doing little to combat this type of off-page SEO at scale, even an inexperienced link builder could make just about anything rank in Google, for anything, without much consequence. Simply by creating a 300-word article and building 500 unnatural links to it from (even very low-quality blogs) with unique anchor text, spread out over a few months, you could achieve top rankings. Link builders could do this largely free from fear that Google would do much about it – because everybody seemed to be ‘doing it’ (in competitive niches).

It was relatively easy, compared to today!

Industrial scale link building services were dictating the very SERPs owned by Google, just by taking advantage of the way Google works in counting links as votes and ‘ranking factors’.

So, just as many were about to turn the dial on article spinning to blogs up to 11 and go on holiday, Google nuked this and a lot of other low-quality links with the Google Penguin update and an old mantra shouted even louder – earn rankings based on merit and uniqueness, or be punished.

When I say, ‘nuked’ – of course, this practice still goes on.

It can still be effective, but this activity comes with an increased risk of Google penalty, even when you are an experienced black-hat. This practice is still offered, today, as linkbuilding services and packages to unsuspecting business owners – when it is not a suitable route for real companies to take with a single website.

Maybe it shouldn’t be THAT important going forward, to have only one website, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Google has a few surprises for Webmasters bending the rules using what they call spammy links. As well as investing more manpower to hand out MANUAL ACTIONS (penalties), Google introduced a myriad of algorithm changes including the Google Panda Update; we think, to deal with those low-quality pages, and GOOGLE PENGUIN; we think, to deal with those low-quality links.

Google say Google PANDA and PENGUIN are algorithm modifications (as opposed to penalties) – but critics will say that is splitting hairs.

FYI I’ve very much simplified these two algorithm changes in Google, but trip a PANDA/CORE QUALITY or PENGUIN flag, and traffic levels can take a nosedive overnight – and they might never come back.

A kick in the balls is a kick in the balls – you’ll think you’re penalised, and it will feel like one, looking at your traffic from Google.

My blog is not a black hat SEO blog. I won’t go into link wheels, link hubs, blog networks, three-way links, tiered link building service, illegal hacks or redirects (other than mention them) because I don’t do any of that anymore (not that I did much of that).

For me (at least) the focus since Google Penguin in April 2012 (and especially since the introduction of the disavow links device) has focused entirely on building something useful on my site that will attract links so I don’t need to build unnatural links and be fearfully looking over my shoulder at every major algorithm change.

Negative SEO

My notes in this article are for money sites – sites you DO NOT want to burn in Google – sites you want to build something useful to people (that makes money). If you know your only option is to break the rules and have a short-term focus, hire a link buyer or linkbuilding specialist who can help you with your business model, too, because you’ll need it – and that’s not me.

I work with companies who are thinking of the long-term health of their business and who understands that the key to ranking in Google in the future is by making the website better, richer in content and the best user experience it can be.

It’s much easier to get links to something that’s useful, and when you earn rankings, it’s a more stable existence in Google these days. Too many people submit spam reports and too many people engage in negative SEO for me to invest too much in unnatural links these days.

I’ve counted at least SEVEN Negative SEO attacks against this site in the last two years (as expected) so Negative SEO pointed at this site has killed any chance of me building ‘useful’ but lower quality links to the site, even if I wanted to.

Today’s negative SEO efforts now look almost indistinguishable from genuine backlink building efforts a few years ago – but that’s the point – negative SEO efforts want to make it look like YOU built the links yourself – when they submit your site to Google next month to get you penalised for a year.

That kind of negative SEO WILL work.

Seriously.

It was a great move by Google to turn the game on its head – and get SEO fighting themselves to kill cheap linkbuilding.

Fortunately, the truth is, if you work on your site and put a bit – OK a massive amount – of effort into creating a unique offering, you can still win top rankings and better traffic, month on month, while your competition is chased down by Google’s algorithms.

If you are totally new to building links to your website – I’d recommend you focus on creating the best page on the web for what you want to rank for – and then think ‘where is my next great link prospect’.

Or – find a good link prospect with a history of linking out, and create content for them to attract links.

Google might have said recently (when they agreed with Bing) – a good link is a link you don’t know where it’s coming from. I don’t agree with that in every case because I have spent a career looking for links on really good, relevant sites and thinking ‘I would love a link on there’ and then creating content that might get me that link. For me – an editorial link is just that – editorial. If I put content in front of someone and THEY CHOOSE to link to it freely – that’s editorial enough for me, and a good way to track down some links – even today. Haven’t authors always yearned to be cited by the media, and specific media journals?

You can also identify the types of great content being linked to in your niche – and emulate that, to chase down similar links. If you want to rank in Google with any confidence in the long-term, you are going to have to INVEST in GOOD, IN-DEPTH content, and a few GREAT links. If you don’t want to do that – you better hire a great black hat spammer and get some backup domains at the ready.

The number of low-quality links pointing at your site will affect your rankings adversely, and I’ve not seen many paid links age well. Eventually – those unnatural links will catch up with you. Get links from REAL sites that don’t sell links and you’ll soon see results.

In 2017, I’d rather have NO links and lots of content than lots of unnatural links pointing to a site I care about. You can ALWAYS pick up the odd decent link to good content.

I spent the last months cleaning up my blog, for this is ‘new seo’.

This page is an example. I deleted some old posts on the Hobo blog, reworked some out of date advice, merged similar content.

I added some videos from Google, who now advise on the subject-matter where they once did not, and I created this in-depth page that, I hope, is of some use for beginners wishing to market a website successfully in Google in 2017.

I’m essentially focused on creating content these days – and I recommend you do the same (to start with, at least). I expect this post will stand as an epitaph to my lower quality linkbuilding days of old – I don’t expect to be publishing again on this topic.

I didn’t want any links advice on my blog that could hurt someone’s business.

Most of my posts from this point forward will deal with offering a UNIQUE offering via traditional efforts focused on IMPROVING TRUST and RELEVANCE SIGNALS, meeting USER EXPECTATIONS and QUERY SATISFACTION – the essence of search engine optimisation in 2017.

At any rate – this type of optimisation is what I have forced myself to reacquaint myself with since Penguin 2012.

Because – even after a penalty – you can still increase free traffic from Google month on month without old school link building techniques (or adding much new content as my case below illustrates when I was working on it):

Screenshot 2014-04-04 16.47.54

Over the last few years, I wanted to see if plain old SEO still worked – that is – SEO without unnatural links – and I effectively had to do it without publishing new content. Some bloggers did notice, however.

But before that, let us look at the big traders or the warren buffets of this world. Neil Patel, Shaun Anderson, Jacob King are top search results when you type anything related to “SEO”, try it!. The tips & tricks of these masters influence many websites.

Including one or two of my peers:

Interestingly, you can easily see which sites you are in competition with in the SERPs by looking for similar ranking keywords. Take for example Hobo-Web.co.uk – which I would say is a really good ranking site for SEO terms in the UK:

and

Everything I learned about SEO was from books, videos and by following the work of a select few really good SEO professionals such as Shaun Anderson, Martin Macdonald and Rishi Lakhani.

I haven’t blogged recently (and I’ve been a hermit on social media too) because I have spent the last year and a half doing nothing but focusing on the same areas for clients, too, after testing it all out on the Hobo site.

The good news for me is YES – the kind of SEO I love to practice still works – but the bad news for some people is – it’s a LOT OF WORK.

NOTE – I published my free SEO guide if you are totally new to all this, and want to learn more.

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Is Link Building Dead?

NO, but unnatural links can’t be the day job for any professional SEO, who has the responsibility for a real business’s website traffic.

Some can say ‘link building is dead’ but the fact is – in 2017 – building links (any kinds of links) STILL affects your rankings in Google, in a BIG way, either positively – if from a trusted source  – OR –  negatively – if flagged as suspicious, over time.

Quality content drives the organic link building end-results Google claims it wants to reward with visibility in its SERPs.

Getting and keeping a variety of different ‘INDEPENDENT’ high-quality links to your website is still THE most important factor in getting unpaid traffic from Google in competitive niches not riddled with spam.

For the most part, Google will ignore a lot of your links, and will reward any site with what practitioners call, rightly or wrongly, domain authority, over time, based on the ‘quality’ of the links you have managed to have pointed at your site.

It’s been the case historically that more domain authority you have, the less unique offering you need when it comes to ‘content’ – although recent Google Quality Updates seem to focus heavily on CONTENT QUALITY, too!

High-quality seo copywriting has never been so important. Hot & Cold Pages

Links Like Lasers

Google often still relies on links to find, index, categorise and rate websites (and pages) in 2017.

Content will always be king (especially in the future) but without links, content can still be a moot point.

You can have the best content in the world, but if you don’t have links pointing to it from other sites, it may lose out to optimised content on ‘hotter’ sites, even if that content is of poorer quality.

To properly visualise this ‘lasers’ or “SEO heat” analogy, you’ve got to accept success in search engines for competitive terms comes down very largely to links – the number of links, the number of right links… the number of ‘hot’ links.

A link from one page heats up the page it links to

Links are like lasers. A link to another site “heats” that site up a little. Links have the potential to make a site hot, and send that site to the top of the results.

Some links get hotter in time, some get colder, and some disappear as each site is affected by those linking to it and from it.

With this constant shift, every site’s heat signature is in constant flux, and there’s little you can do to it except getting more of the right links to keep your site hotter than the competition for particular terms.

Some burn hot and then go cold, and vice versa.

OK – Now Forget about the links. That’s been worked out – Google’s counted the links, and filtered the crap.

In the diagram below, you can see in any collection of pages, there is natural heat, naturally hot and cold sites, because of the natural interlinking going on between pages.

In this model, popular sites are hotter than unpopular sites, and this is a reflection of the real web

Hot Sites, A Heat Signature and Those Out In The Cold

So Google now has Hot sites in its index, and Cold sites.

Everywhere in-between, Google has sites that generate some “heat signature“.

Hot sites are well known and well linked to and more likely to rank for any term if a page is properly optimised on-page and via the internal navigation structure of the website.

Hot sites are relatively trusted to inject content “directly” into Google’s index, especially if it’s “unique”, probably with a good amount of natural words to keywords.

In any matrix, there is natural heat

‘Cold’ sites are not well connected (by links) to any neighbourhood or heat signature and virtually invisible in Google, except for very specific terms.

Hot sites are authoritative and trusted.

Cold sites are sites starved of heat, with a linking profile that’s very cold. Hello, Google Supplemental Index! Or whatever Google calls it in 2017.

A hot site has the potential to rank in Google SERPs regardless of site-theme & domain relevance although from my observations these ‘irrelevant’ pages can disappear in time.

Over the years – Google has done a really good job of balancing domain authority, relevance and a whole host of other ranking factors to spread that free traffic about and stop sites ranking for terms they probably should not rank for (think, Google Panda).

If its on-site architecture is tuned to promote a certain term leading to an optimised page, it will rank – if the page itself meets 2015 ranking requirements on page quality, utility and user experience.

Why Google Hates Paid Links

Google hates paid links because it is an obvious way to generate heat signature, and ranking ability, a site might not deserve.

Identifying one or two hot sites, and purchasing links on hot pages within that site, is enough to ignite an “undeserving” site and entire network and send it to the top of the SERPs.

Google likes it natural, because that way, we do Google’s work for it and identify hot sites by linking to them. One thing is for sure, though.

If Google were confident they could via algorithmic calculation clearly identify paid links, the whole internet marketing industry would not have been talking about the war on paid links.

Inorganic Link Growth Through Paid Links

In this example we see a hot site linking to a cold site – instantly generating a heat source on this new site.

This is not natural in Google’s eyes. It’s not democratic in ‘that’ sense..

Wiki Is Hot!

An Example Of A ‘Hot’ Site

Wikipedia is an example of a hot site. Everybody links to it.

It’s probably one of the hottest sites on the planet alongside Google, regarding link equity.

Wiki ranks for just about anything, and could be optimised further to rank for everything – (and not ONLY because it’s a REAL AUTHORITY – it’s an INFORMATION site! Many critics ask if this the real reason Google ranks Wikipedia at the top of a LOT of TRANSACTIONAL SERPs).

Of course, Wiki’s a natural phenomenon now.

It has links from cold sites and hot sites in both related and unrelated markets.

Features Of A Hot Site

  • A hot site is one which a lot of sites link to it from other sites, all with a different heat signature.
  • Hot sites can rank for anything if a page on the site is optimised in both the architecture of the site and on-page SEO.
  • Hot sites are natural phenomenon created by other sites linking to them – the more popular the site, the more hot and cold links it will accumulate. Its possible neighbourhood and relevance are just natural occurrences of sites dividing the heat up within a particular network.
  • Hot sites link to other hot sites. Generally speaking, a hot site won’t link to a typically cold site unless that site has content on it that’s nowhere else or is “new”, in turn making that a hot(ter) site. e.g. a high-quality site rarely links to a spam site.

Hot Sites Have A LOT of the right links pointing to them

What You Need To Do To Get More Visitors From Google

Let’s assume your page is optimised, you need heat. The hotter a site, or rather page, the better the link for your site.

If a keyword is in the anchor text of the link, even better, but only if it is an EDITORIAL LINK, in 2017. Most ‘link builders’ build ‘brand’ links these days (links without important keywords in them).

The problem is, the easiest links to find out there are on pages with very cold, or at least very diluted heat signatures.

It’ll take a lot of these to get hot – and now – too many ‘cold’ links could be a sign of unnatural link activity – and they often leave a nasty footprint Google can easily identify!

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Basics of Link Building

 

When you are not spamming the algorithm, and the Google web spam team is not on holiday, ranking in Google today is about patience, ACCESSIBILITY, RELEVANCE, CONTENT QUALITY, REPUTATION, USER EXPERIENCE and above all – TRUST – however Google works that last one out.

It is evident Google wants to reward UNIQUENESS – because that scales not.

I prefer focusing on improving those signals above, rather than just manipulating link popularity. A link building campaign devoid of any quality, or of any use (or ‘value add’) to anyone, is not the type of back link profile Google wants to reward with any long term consistency.

Google calls that spam, and will punish you for it if it detects an intent to deceive its algorithms. Not that that stops a good spammer of course. If you’re reading this, chances are you are not a good spammer, so I would keep it clean until you know what you are doing.

And maybe even then.

How to do high-quality link building that works:

  • Get links from real sites to build real domain authority. It doesn’t hurt to get a link from a low or high Google Page Rank page. Today’s No-PR page might be a PR 5 page in reality as Google Toolbar Pagerank is out of date, and not a metric to bet your house on.
  • Try and get links from authority websites in your niche. Find that circle of sites – the hub –  where authorities in your industry link to and are linked from and think about how you can get involved.
  • Don’t worry too much about “theme” of websites linking to you but stay clear of irrelevant sites just for irrelevant links. In fact – going off topic once in a while on your blog can lead to great natural links from unrelated sites.
  • Review the link building tactics your competitors employ to EARN links and think about how you can emulate the better quality strategies you may find. Don’t build links just to build links, or just to copy somebody else.
  • Join social networks, not for the links themselves, but to get your content noticed by the people most likely to share your type of content, to build your personal network, and to build your ‘Authorship’ signal – you’re going to need those for the future!
  • Get links from relevant sites, but understand that ANY editorial link is a good link, regardless of the page and site it is on (unless it’s a negative SEO attack of course).
  • Focus on quality link building techniques and strategies to avoid future unnatural links notices in Google Webmaster Tools which will be followed by penalties that can last – well – forever – depending on what you have been up to
  • Don’t annoy folk with link begging emails and, for sure, not without a good piece of content for them, and don’t bombard friends you make on social networks with your sales message.
  • Help others achieve their goals today, and some will help you in the future. I’ve always found that to be a simple truth.
  • The more people abuse certain links, the faster they turn toxic. Don’t go with that link herd because you, as a beginner, will be the weakest in it.
  • Automated link building or manual link building – if the end-result is an unnatural link you’ve placed yourself, Google doesn’t want to count that
  • Outsource link building with extreme caution in 2017.
  • If you want links, you had better have ‘linkable assets, ‘ e.g., pages on your website need to be a ‘destination’.

What Do Search Engines Say About Link Building?

Which Search Engine Gives The Best Advice?

Unless you think GooglePlus counts are the number one ranking factor, you’ll realise building high-quality links to your site is STILL the single most important thing you can be doing to improve the rank of an already relevant high-quality page (if you haven’t been doing anything shady in the past, that is. If you have, you need to concentrate on dissociating yourself first from unnatural links).

In competitive verticals – you can easily follow Bing/Yahoo clear linkbuilding guidelines to rank in Google, but forget to try and rank in Bing/Yahoo with this same technique because to do so, you need to use Google Webmaster Guidelines as a rulebook for success, and that will penalise you in Google, which no sensible person wants.

Bing and Yahoo recently encouraged you to outreach for relevant links to improve the rank of your website: Bing said:

“simply ask websites for them”

Yahoo said:

“Correspond with Webmasters of related sites and other providers of relevant content in order to increase the number of links to your site.”

Google has a different view. Google says:

Any links intended to manipulate ….a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines.

Two of the 3 major (UK) search engines (recently) encouraged you to ask websites for links to improve the ranking of your site, and the biggest, Google, tells you not to do it at all.

Bing’s SERPs (which power Yahoo searches) look pre-penguin and pre-EMD (Exact Match Domain Update) Google SERPs.

You can easily rank in Bing and tank in Google, these days.

Actionable Advice From Yahoo and Bing: Get links from related sites. Ask for links to increase the number of links to your site. (quotes)

Honesty From Google If we spot a linkbuilding footprint we will f*** you. (paraphrased)

Bing’s Position on Backlink Building Clarified

Here’s a post on link building and SEO for “smart webmasters” on the Bing search blog.

  • You contact Webmasters of other, related websites and let them know your site exists.
  • If the value that you have worked so hard to instill in your site is evident to them, they will assist their own customers by linking back to your site. That, my friend, is the essence of link building.
  • Relevance is important to end users… We see the content they possess and the content you possess. If there is a clear disconnect, the value of that inbound link is significantly diminished, if not completely disregarded.
  • If relevance is important, the most highly regarded, relevant sites are best of all. Sites that possess great content, that have a history in their space, that have earned tons of relevant, inbound links – basically, the sites who are authorities in their field – are considered authoritative sites.
  • When probable manipulation is detected, a spam rank factor is applied to a site, depending upon the type and severity of the infraction. If the spam rating is high, a site can be penalized with a lowered rank. If the violations are egregious, a site can be temporarily or even permanently purged from the index.

Interesting and it gives an insight into linkbuilding and penalties for manipulation – we know the same sort of thing is happening at Google too. Bing’s policy on link building

Bing’s position on link building is straightforward – we are less concerned about the link building techniques used than we are about the intentions behind the effort. That said, techniques used are often quite revealing of intent.

That ‘spam rank factor’ is interesting . I wonder if Google has a similar approach – it certainly feels like it..

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Building Links Is Easier When You Have Content Worth Linking To

Getting other sites to link to yours is easy when you have content worth linking to. It is that simple in some cases.

Your content should be original, but it doesn’t need to set the world on fire. The more content you add to your site, the more likely people will link to it, today or in the future.

I’m still getting links from stuff I wrote years ago. So the first thing you should be doing is adding high-quality content to your site.

I think How-To articles, or articles that discuss a common problem often discussed in forums, etc. – some call it evergreen, timeless, in-depth or flagship content – is best suited to link-bait (and visitors!).

High-quality In-depth content is always going to get linked to or shared on social, at some point if it’s presented slightly differently, and interesting.

Once you get enough links, and you feature in the top 3 results, you’ll find you start to pick up more and more natural links.

Where to start?

See that little FAQ on your site? That page needs to be improved. Each FAQ could be an individual page with a good page title, which meets its purpose, in a well-structured site.

Alternatively – you could turn a smaller FAQ into a long-form in-depth content piece focused on the topic at hand.

You are reading one of these expanded FAQ now.

You need to ask yourself what do people want to know about your products, or your industry – not just your business. And you need to add that content to your website.

Having content on your site makes it so much easier to pick up links. If you have no content, while you can still rank in Google via links alone, you’re limiting yourself in a way you might not recover from. Try not to add content to your website that’s not just about your boring company. Most folks are not interested.

Remember – Google wants to reward UNIQUENESS. It’s a pretty simple extrapolation to mean that translates into unique IN-DEPTH – or LONG FORM, INFORMATIVE PAGE COPY and guess what – that type of content picks up links when it DOES rank in Google.

Tell The World About Your Site But Don’t Get Caught Asking For Links

Google used to say:

Have other relevant sites link to yours.

Then it’s guidelines changed to:

Tell the world about your site. Google

and in 2017:

create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Google

It’s clear.

Google does not want you asking specifically for links or building links you make yourself because this is a clear attempt to manipulate rankings. It’s a bit slack advice when the key to ranking and traffic success in Google is getting other relevant authority sites link to your site.

Links are what the web is about though, and it is why Google is the number 1 search engine. Links were about before Google, though. There’s nothing wrong with getting other sites to link to you as long as it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb you’re looking for Pagerank or improved rankings for particular terms. Private discussions with people you know are another thing, but when I ask for links (which I don’t do very often), I no longer ask for specific keyword anchor text.

If I send out an email, I’ll point someone in the direction of the page, and I’ll point out that linking to it might have some benefit to their audience. On some occasions in the (long gone) past, I’ve offered to reciprocate the link IF it is of benefit to the readers of the other page. I never specify any attribute of the link either e.g. whether or not it is search engine friendly, or not. I would not go on record these days sending an email out saying:

Link to me using the following keyword text on a page with Pagerank of minimum 2….

… and neither should you.

You never know who will end up reading that, and it makes it clear you don’t have a clue what you are on about and will take links from and link back to anybody.

If you want people to link to you in a particular way, make sure the title of the page you want links to, has the keywords you want to rank for featured, and a lot of folks will use those words to link to you. I sometimes change the title of pages for this exact reason.

This is presuming, of course, the page is useful in some way!

And don’t send out spam email requests. I have had thousands of bottom-feeder link requests, and I don’t answer any of them.

It is a waste of time for most of us – and harmful in the long-run.

There are many ways to skin a cat of course, but this is how my linkbuilding company does it – and as I’ve said before, we’re a content-focused link building agency.

We don’t build links to crap sites in 2017 (not even crap links).

How do you tell the world about your site?

Twitter. Stumbleupon. Facebook. TV. Press Ads. Articles. Blogging. Linkedin.

You pick – but start with building something on your website somebody will find useful.

That is the start point.

Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people what a quality link is but in simple terms in 2017 Google wants you thinking nothing but a natural link is a good link.

Links do not have to be relevant to your industry to build your domain reputation (far from it).

The linking site you earn a link from doesn’t have to be an authority in its niche, and it doesn’t have to be the same links as your competitors to get the same rankings.

Even if the site is unrelated to your site (and you just bagged a lucky link on a well-managed website) – THAT is a GREAT link in 2017.

Any editorial link is a good link.

What it should NOT be is a website (or websites) that ONLY exist to provide links to other sites to boost rankings.

Sites that are designed just to link out to other websites to help seo are toxic in 2017 and Google has a bit of an after-hours hobby of going after a lot of link schemes in these days.

Just about every link building specialist, I talk to today, LOVES EARNED LINKS – loves white hat link building – although a lot of experienced link builders just won’t give up on manufactured links while spam prevails in Google’s listings – and there’s a lot of that, still.

I think about how I get links from real sites, and the more authoritative the site, the better, of course.

Ideally:

  • You don’t just want a link on a useful links page, but as long as the links page is a valuable resource, and not abusing anchor text, then it could still be a good link – perhaps even a great link
  • You don’t want your link on a page, on a site, openly selling links as chances are the links will not age well, at least.
  • You do want it on a page that’s in Google’s index, on a legitimate website that ranks in Google for what is in the title tag.

Earned contextual links are the holy grail of building links, for me, but if the link is on a good domain, with a high PR and is not abusing anything, just about any link is a great link.

If you want to increase Google Pagerank of your site, you better make sure the pages that link to you have PR, can transfer it and are making your link the focus of the article.

This takes a bit of experience, though…. you’ll naturally accrue Pagerank if you invest in remarkable or compelling content on your site – and that can take just about any form you can think of.

Do the stuff above (and a lot of it) and you’ll have a natural link profile as is possible that will probably stand the test of time. I don’t use that many link building tools to identify opportunity because I don’t want the same links as my competitors for my clients – you just need Google and your brain, in some cases.

There’s many ways to SEO the cat (and I don’t IGNORE competitor research), but if I was a link builder picking through competitors back links instead of trying to think a bit more creatively about building a brand online, I think I would shoot myself in the head. I filter competition backlinks and identify quality linking patterns – but often, competitor research is best for inspiration, rather than bagging the same link.

Focus on building better content, a better user experience, and get links from REAL SITES. Remember that….and you will probably always be ok.

Back To Table Of Contents

Do Off-Topic Links To My Site Count?

Yes. A lot of SEO & Internet marketing blogs will say pump out a lot of relevant content on your blog, build a resource all around a specific subject.

Even Google says to do the same.

What you won’t normally hear is to improve your traffic, improve the number and quality of your links to your website is to go slightly off topic…. write about anything that is timely – especially when it’s even slightly topical.

News-jacking stories **in related** niches (or your own) is still a great way of picking up natural, socially driven links.

I’ve gone off topic on a number of times to chase links. Because of that, I’ve been linked to by authority sites that wouldn’t have any reason to link to an SEO company.

I had a PR 9 link once because I wrote about something ‘off-topic’.

Recently I was editorially linked to, from a .edu on a ‘slightly‘ off topic subject to an article I wrote two years ago.

Once our site got a home page link on what I can only determine was the Brazilian version of TechCrunch and sent me nearly 5,000 visitors on a link that was buried four pages in on the article (to an article that was a year old).

The link was to an off-topic post on my site that ranks pretty good because of my domain authority – for want of a better word – and that new link will only increase that domain authority.

When you go off topic into less competitive niches, you can sometimes have a better chance of ranking on the first page of Google – and so – pick up natural links even further down the line.

The Best Way To Earn Natural Links Is TO Be Top Of Google!

Ranking no1 in Google makes natural link building that much easier!

If you are the number 1 link in a SERP, you wouldn’t believe the amount of natural links you get just because you are already No1 – it truly is a self re-enforcing effect and can be a powerful way to attract links over time.

The number 1 position truly is a self-reinforcing position especially if there’s any semblance of a natural linking profile in that particular keyword vertical – i.e., tutorials, research, how-to, etc. So – a strategy is to rank for as much as possible from the start – even if that is LONG-TAIL queries – and so that starts with IN-DEPTH CONTENT on YOUR SITE. If you are building links to 500-word articles – that’s not going to stand the test of time over even the next year or two.

These links from trusted sites help ranking your content – especially your new content. A natural link from a trusted site (or even a more trusted site than yours) can do nothing but help your site. I would think when a trusted site links to your site, the trust Google places in your site because of that link raises your trust levels, and while not helping you rank immediately for your main terms, can help you when you publish new content in the future. Of course, if the off topic trusted site links to you with good keywords, you don’t get much better.

The art is to pull all that together in a way that benefits you the most, without giving Google a reason to place less trust in your site.

Now for sure, I don’t go that far off topic and expect to get links that will count.

But indeed, going off topic every now and again, especially with a helpful article on your blog certainly gets you links, sometimes tons of traffic, some you wouldn’t normally receive in your boring niche.

You know you can monetise anything if you can be bothered and take advantage of any page that’s been linked to heavily, but the point is the natural links you earn from this type of activity might well be the only links you need to beat off a competitor.

Sometimes –  it’s surprising the quality of links you get with a bit of off-topic content.

Back To Table Of Contents

Which Links Affect A Website’s Ranking In Google SERPs?

Google

Any link that sends you traffic could be seen as a good link, but what are quality links, what are good links and what are crap links, when it comes to improving the actual ranking of your pages in Google SERPs?

First, you need to be aware that the quality of a link (that affects a ranking improvement for your site in Google) is dependant on the page the link is found and site it is on.

Is the site trusted, is the page trusted, is the page in Google’s index at all, how many links point to the actual page your link is on, are people going to click this link (that in itself is a good measure of the quality of a real link)? Most importantly, it’s all about the page the link is on.

Just because you get a link on a high PR domain does not automatically make that a useful link.

It’s the page you need to evaluate, and how important that page is on the site.

Testing Google

Google used to tell you through their cache results if a link was being ‘counted’ at least in some fashion.

Back in Nov 2011, Google removed the cached message:

these terms only appear in links pointing to this page

While this was regularly an inaccurate statement for the cached pages to declare I always found this information in cached pages useful – when looking at backlink profiles to investigate weird ranking results – or ranking anomalies/false positives – that shed light on how Google worked on some level.

This feature of Google cache was also very useful when testing, for example, first link priority.

It was also helpful to investigate why a page ranked for a keyword, for instance, when the word was not on the actual page.

You could often catch a glimpse of backlink building efforts that worked looking at this – which led to a few surprises, more often than not.

Now Google cache only tells us:

These search terms are highlighted:

Pity.

Another small window on determining how Google might ‘work,’ at a granular level, disappeared to lead to more obfuscation.

Which Links Are Worth Addressing?

You should have a light mixture of focused anchor text links, unfocused anchor text links and URL citations (www.hobo-web.co.uk, etc.) in your link profile to ensure long standing rankings (e.g., a natural link profile).

What follows is my general rule of thumb:

  1. Your internal links Not THE most important links, but the best place to start. Get your site in order before you get links. Google loves a good site structure with plenty of text links pointing to each page on your site. I prefer a minimal site-wide navigation and a lot of in content links if you have a lot of useful content, and I consider all the time if Google is only counting the first link on a page. Don’t forget to link to your important pages often – ENSURE your get them into Google’s index in the first place.
  2. Links on mainstream news sites, and other types of authority sites – or in short, links from Brands – the holy grail in my opinion – promotion, old style. Purely because they are trusted and have a lot of links to them.
  3. Related industry site (the aim of SEO, and excellent quality, but depends on the site, niche and the type of link – can be very useful) – usually, they too have a lot of links.
  4. Link on a high PR old style aged trusted page – like a university or government resource page – excellent if you can get the Webmaster to link to you
  5. Links from unrelated but non-abusive sites (depends on the site and the type of link – can be very useful for improving your Google ranking & PR)
  6. Link on a blog post (good, but dependent on the site, but easily deteriorates over time as a post is gobbled up in sometimes very crap site architecture.
  7. Social media site links (opinion, I think these are very very weak as a ranking signal in themselves, but they do get your page out there, and that’s how you pick up organic links).
  8. Link on a useful links page (often very low-quality, but sometimes very high-quality – it’s all dependent on the INTENT of that page in question, and the quality of the site it is on).
  9. Reciprocal links (often abused and very low-quality, but sometimes just a natural part of the link graph )

Links to avoid include any link that is self-made and obviously self-made, on a site with only self-made links.

It doesn’t matter if THEY WORK to manipulate Google in the short term – if you use a lot of low-quality techniques, and there is an obvious INTENT to rank using low-quality means, these links might very well cause you ranking troubles a few months later.

I would avoid:

  1. Dofollow Blog Comments  – PENALTY MATERIAL
  2. Site wide links & blogrolls (generally low-quality in terms of anchor text transference – used to be good for PR transference but not nearly as useful as it used to be) PENALTY MATERIAL
  3. Article submission & syndication services – PENALTY MATERIAL
  4. Directory Links – PENALTY MATERIAL
  5. Forum Signatures (generally low-quality, dependent on page and forum, perhaps dependant on number of links too) PENALTY MATERIAL
  6. Widgets – PENALTY MATERIAL
  7. Unnatural Sitewide links – PENALTY MATERIAL
  8. Blog Networks, Directory networks and just about any other type of link network
  9. Any Unnatural Links – Potential Penalty Material, Eventually
  10. Paid Links, of any sort (if you are rumbled)

I will say you can still get away with quite a lot, but actual penalty material as I claim above is all to do with your INTENT as GOOGLE interprets it to be.

Nofollowed links (like those on most blog comments – are not counted as links (though can be used to generate traffic if you link to a popular blog post or comment on one). NOTE many claim Google DO follow nofollow links in certain cases – but I perform SEO not expecting nofollowed links to have much impact on my rankings either way. If they do – good – but I don’t rely on them.

Remember that links need to be complimented by well-structured title tags, GOOD IN-DEPTH content, and a good site architecture.

It’s not enough to be ‘popular’ – you also need to be ‘relevant’ and ‘unique’.

For me, another rule of thumb is, often, the EASIER a link is, that everyone else can get, the LESS quality it is for you in the long run.

Back To Table Of Contents

Should I Copy My Competitor?

As part of my analysis, I ALWAYS scan competitors back links to see if they have managed to earn any quality links and determine how they did it and if it can be replicated.

In 2017 – you are only looking for the very best links. You don’t want to engage in any low-quality SEO techniques just to take on one or two competitors. It’s not worth it – you’re probably better off just outing your competitor on Google’s forums (or competing with them with another domain).

Seriously.

Should I Buy Links To Improve Google Rankings?

SHORT ANSWER – Probably, not sensible – ESPECIALLY NOT IF THEY LOOK LIKE PAID LINKS!

Buying links that are search engine friendly and “flow Pagerank” is against Google TOS.

If you buy links, you take the risk that Google will penalise you for unnatural links.

If buying links were ineffective, it wouldn’t be against Google TOS. Think about what that means.

I can’t remember the last vertical I checked there weren’t people buying links to improve search engine placement – so the competition is doing it. Last time I checked, they were ranking pretty good, but it’s not all plain sailing in 2017.

Google is getting better at dealing with some form of paid links. It depends on what you are trying to achieve – although I will point out again, Google will take you down if it finds out.

If you are buying links, make sure your links aren’t obviously paid links, though.

That is, don’t buy links from prominent places. If Google gets better at detecting these, it’s the obvious paid links that will be hit first.

I can say, I don’t buy links, and I would recommend you not do either.

It is too risky at the moment in 2017, and there are still plenty of ways to get links without paying for them.

Link Sellers Are Rarely Discreet

I don’t ‘out’ individuals for SEO tactics, and I don’t ‘out’ the myriad of purveyors of link prospects who contact me every day, non-stop.

Here’s why.

This one takes some beating, from a MIDDLE EASTERN NEWSPAPER:

Hello, The (A MIDDLE EASTERN NATIONAL NEWSPAPER) is currently offering outside companies to purchase links from within our articles. To place a bid, simply send a document with the keywords you would like to purchase, and your price bid. Feel free to search the site for yourself, to find the perfect article for you. Since we are just starting this venture, we have no fixed price, thus you can choose the amount of links, period of time, and so on. We are allowing the first 1000 S.E.O. companies to send in their bids, without the limitation of a starting price. We will accept lucrative offers. Mind you, we also sell conventional links, such as: * Link on “sites of xxxxxxxx” (footer of master page) priced @ $500 per month (6 months minimum). * Text link on the home page priced @ $1,300 per month. * Text link on the inner pages priced @ $1,000 per month. Once a bid is accepted, you will be contacted by a sales representative, to process the campaign’s details. Have a good day, (REMOVED).

I looked at the available links, and sure enough, a list of totally unrelated sites.

Visibly Paid links.

Now, say I see one of my competitors in there?

I could just report the site for selling links and my competitors for buying them (not that I bother with that).

Or I could out them on a public blog.

Lucky I don’t ‘out’ SEO tactics is because I think outing SEO tactics is self-serving and slimy.

If I did buy links in footers like this (which I don’t), I wouldn’t be happy there was an email to 1000 SEO companies telling THEM my clients was buying links.

Would a rival newspaper use this information against you too if they new, especially given the polarising nature of your content (again, not that it bothers me)?

If you are buying or selling links that are search engine friendly you better be doing it more covertly than this….. you need to build relationships to get decent links, even like the ones above.

Start, for instance, with a private email address, and open up a conversation before you show folks what you have got? I sent the email back with a link to this post to see what they say….. DOH! 

Note – expectedly – these newspaper websites soon got hit by Google – the first public indicator being a lack of toolbar Pagerank…..

I’ve long thought it quite funny the situation between the mainstream media v Google.

Some media sites say it’s all one-sided, and Google are stealing their content, are putting up pay-walls, even when SEO have been saying for years about how Google is falling over themselves giving them tons of trust, tons of traffic AND making their links some of the most valuable on the web.

Google uses big trusted sites like news media sites, and their links, to help them sort out the cesspool of the web (when they Google is not ranking news sites own content above smaller businesses). A quick look around some newspapers websites (the top UK ones) and some of the SEO efforts are shocking – they don’t even seem to know how to make subdomains rank well.

Yes, some newspaper sites HAVE woken up to the fact they have massive domain authority and are rolling out everything from dating sites to – wow – low-quality business directories.

I would do some of that too I suppose. I mean Google has made newspaper sites authority sites in niches like online dating.

A quick look around some local newspapers too and you see they don’t link out to anyone, anywhere. Oh wait – there’s some paid link articles to personal injury lawyers lol and an advertising network of links that have clearly affected the site’s ‘trust’.

Yeah – you need to know when to get out of those things before it goes t*ts up as they say in Scotland.

I don’t buy links but at the same time, I don’t think it’s hypocritical to say the least that search engines frown on bloggers selling links and do little to deter newspaper sites obvious link selling tactics.

Some newspaper sites are so stupid they send out crazy link selling emails too, like above,  and indeed, some folk do out them. The fact is – only SHOCKINGLY bad – not just bad – SEO will get these sites penalised in a NOTICEABLE WAY – and even then – only if outed, then a discussion about inappropriate domain authority, in particular, niches might focus the spotlight.

I don’t out SEO strategies, but I wonder if it’s worth examining newspaper SEO in the future. They do make a business of outing folk. Right?

To be honest at this time, I think like a link builder, it’s more appropriate NOT to out others under just about any circumstances, but it is something I think about.

It’s probably more useful to think how you are possibly going to combat mega domain authority gate crashes impact on your business, or in turn, work out how you can look like a brand to Google.

Web And Links

How to Find Cheap Hotels




Booking.com



 



Booking.com


Four Methods:Knowing Your Search ToolsJoining Loyalty ProgramsPackaging Your AccommodationAsking for DiscountsCommunity Q&A

Hotels regularly sell their under booked rooms for less than their standard price. The Internet is flush with hotel discount websites, so it can be difficult to know which service is listing the lowest price. Although the Internet is still the best place to look for big deals on hotel rooms, you can use all these tools to get the biggest discount.

Steps

Method 1

Knowing Your Search Tools

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    1

    Expect that most travel aggregate sites search for hotel deals. That does not mean, however, that all the sites will show the same information. Plan to look at three or more sites before you book.

    • The hotels listed depends upon what hotels choose to list their under booked rooms and which sites have already sold out of their vacant rooms.

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    2
    Try Kayak.com. This site claims to find 25 percent or more off a hotel stay. The advantage of Kayak is that it is well known by hotel chains and it allows you to compare a flights, cars and vacations in addition to hotels.
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    3

    Visit Booking.com if you want to find a risk-free reservation. Unlike most hotel chains that make you reserve with your credit card and pay a fee if you cancel, Booking.com allows you to search for listings and review them based on free cancellation.

    • You may want to book a hotel on this site, keep your confirmation nearby and cancel if you find a better deal.
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    4
    Search at Hotels.com or Travelzoo.com for last minute hotel deals. If you have a vacation coming up soon and you have yet to book your hotel, these sites perform well.
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    5
    Go to Trivago to search for cheap hotels using a search engine that includes hotel discount websites, like Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking, Priceline and Travelocity. It may not list all the hotels that are available, but it will compare sites to find you the best price for popular hotels.[1]

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    6
    Try Hotwire for even bigger discounts. The disadvantage of Hotwire is that you pick by location and find out where you will stay after you book. Hotwire doesn’t offer easy cancellation and you are taking a bigger risk than with other sites.

Method 2

Joining Loyalty Programs

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    1

    Call your favorite hotel chain to see if they have a loyalty program. Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt, Joie de Vivre, Kimpton, Marriott, Starwood and many more hotel chains give their loyal customers perks. Call and quiz the membership customer service line to see what they offer.

    • Ask the hotel loyalty program if they offer free Internet. Fancier hotels have stopped providing free Internet to clients. Starwood gives you free Internet upon enrollment.
    • Most loyalty programs work on a points system. Once you earn a certain amount of points, you get a free stay. They are best for frequent travelers.
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    2
    Peruse the list of hotel loyalty programs on TravelZoo. Go to http://www.travelzoo.com/from-the-deal-experts/perks-of-joining-hotel-loyalty-programs/ to review options before you call.
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    3
    Sign up for your loyalty program e-newsletter. They will email you about room sales and you can book by clicking on the email and booking online. Make sure to compare these sale emails to Booking.com or another aggregate site to ensure you are being offered the best deal.
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    4
    Sign up for an AARP, AAA, or professional association membership. Many of these associations have partnerships with certain hotels. You can expect a 10 to 25 percent discount on certain hotel chains.[2]

Method 3

Packaging Your Accommodation

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    1
    Use your airline to book your hotel. You may get a good deal on hotels, hotel transfers, car rentals and more by booking what airlines call a “vacation.”
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    2
    Search Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity and other sites for package deals. Travel agents may be offering special deals on flights and hotels to fill their last few empty spots.
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    3
    Click on the section entitled “last minute deals” on each website. You may be able to score a deal by booking an entire vacation (flight and hotel) just a week or two before you plan to travel. You must be extremely flexible.

Method 4

Asking for Discounts

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    1

    Call a hotel or go into a location and haggle for cheaper accommodation. Tell the hotel what price you are looking for. Suggest that you want to check if they want to offer a deal before you try places down the road.[3]

    • Unless there is a strict no-discounts policy, most hotel managers will be flexible and give you the rate available on Hotels.com or another site.
    • If they won’t offer you a discount, ask if they will give you free services like a breakfast or Internet.
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    2

    Ask for an industry discount. Say that you are a representative of your company looking to book a group of rooms at a hotel in the area. They may call you out or they may give you an industry rate of 10 to 15 percent off or more.

    • You should also ask for an educator discount, military discount or a non-profit discount if you are associated with a school, charity or branch of military service.[4]
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    3
    Search Coupon websites if you want to stay at a certain hotel. Search according to the hotel name at Retail Me Not, Coupons.com or Coupon Heaven. If they don’t have a discount code, they may have coupons for free Internet or services.
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    4
    Travel in the off-season to find cheaper rates. Europe in the fall or winter and South America or the Caribbean in the summer will have far lower rates than in the high season.
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    5

    Book after 6 pm on the same day of travel. If you are up for adventure and a little risk, wait for hotels with unbooked rooms to offer discounts. Remember that you must ask or they will charge you the standard rate.

    • Leave your luggage in the car when you ask for discounts or haggle. You send the message that you are going to stay at the hotel if you bring your suitcase with you.[5]

Using Social Media To Promote Your Website and Grow Your Business

Using social media to promote your website or blog is a great idea—but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way tries to turn your entire social media audience into website readers. The right way grows your social media audience separately but regularly gets interested followers and fans to visit your site. You must get the social media promotion spot on if you want to use social to grow your business.

Using Social Media Like A Tool

Too many site owners start using social media as just another tool to promote their website. You know the type—all they do is announce fresh posts. They don’t try to build a following; they don’t interact with their fans; they just tell you what they want you to know. (I am even guilty of this)

This is the wrong approach for social media. People who want to read your latest post can already subscribe to your feed. They don’t need to hear about your every update using social media.

How You Should Be Using Social Media

There are some crazy myths about social media, but the most obvious rule for successfully using social media is to be social and that is not always simple when you are building a business. Talk to your followers and fans—don’t just broadcast to them. Don’t obsess over your site, but don’t forget to point people to it when you have content relevant to the current conversation.

If you post on your website frequently, don’t mention every fresh post in social media. Instead, only promote your very best posts. If you can’t tell the difference between your good posts and mediocre posts—wait a few hours after posting to read the comments before you promote posts on social media.

The best thing you can do on social media is train people to click your links. How do you train people? You tempt and reward them.

First you tempt them by telling them about the link you want them to click. Then, when they click the link, you reward them with something they’ll enjoy.

To make this work on social media, link only to the very best content on the Web. Each time someone clicks one of your links and enjoys the content they get, they’ll be more inclined to automatically click the next link you send.

In short, if you only link to great content, people will almost always click your links.

Now do you want to know why social media grows businesses?

There are three reasons: attention, research, and validation. Let’s look at each reason individually.

Why Social Media Attention Grows Businesses

The simplest reason why social media grows your businesses is because it helps customers notice your business. Offline businesses live by the mantra “location, location, location”, but online businesses have no way to automatically put themselves in front of customers.

A social media campaign will get your brand out in front of customers. They’ll see you tweeting or posting stories to your Facebook page. They’ll get to interact with you and start to think about you and your products or services.

Any advertising will do that, but social media can help you grow faster because social media done right is cheaper than traditional advertising and it can enter your customers conversation at the perfect moment to get them to act. That does not mean you should spend all your promotion time on sites like Twitter and Facebook as you must also consider your social media ROI (return on investment).

Using Social Media To Promote Your Website and Grow Your Business image 167315 491190997091 539651 n
Using Social Media To Promote Your Website and Grow Your Business

Why Social Media Research Grows Businesses

All the conversations which occur now on social media used to occur offline. They’re the same conversations but with one important difference—now you can listen in on them. If you’re a small business without a budget for market research, listening in on social media conversations is your best research tool.

Whenever someone mentions your brand on social media, you can see what they’re saying, whether it be good or bad. The same is true when they mention your competitors or markets you want to enter.

You can collect all of the information you need to build better products and create a great customer experience on social media—and you don’t have to pay a dime to do it. That’s why social media is a critical part of the 21st century business.

Why Social Media Validation Grows Businesses

Trying to convince somebody who’s never heard about your business to buy your products or services is hard. But nothing could be easier than selling something to someone who just heard their friend rave about how great you are.

Social media makes it easy for people to recommend brands they like to their friends and for you to jump in on the conversation at the exact moment when they’re most ready to buy.

Even more important, social media lets you demonstrate your customer service in public. If someone is disappointed with you, social media lets you “turn their frown upside down” in front of all of their friends. Satisfying a grievance in public is a great way to demonstatably guarantee your products. See how to handle negative comments about you and your business.

Best of all, the validation you receive on social media can go viral. If you get a testimonial from the friend of a famous person and the famous person retweets that testimonial, you can go from an obscure small business to making thousands of sales in a day. You shouldn’t count on this sort of big break, but you certainly have a greater chance of it happening on social media than through offline advertising.

But even without a big break, there’s no reason why social media should be ignored by any small business.

Conclusion

Separate your social media audience from your blog or business website. Use the social aspects to grow that audience and make them like you. Then every once in a while link to something great on your blog. The people in your social media audience who like you will take those opportunities to become blog subscribers so your grow your business using social media

Management Tips for the Digital Age


Web Promotion Services

When you study technology over a long enough time horizon, you notice an interesting trend: Even though each new development is in itself time-saving, people tend to be busier and busier, from one generation to the next.

That’s been an interesting byproduct of the digital age. On the surface, having information available at our fingertips on a continual basis should make everything easier, faster, and more efficient. And mostly, it does. However, we are also expected to do and be more – as people – than at any other point in history. That’s true personally and professionally, where individuals now handle jobs that were once split up among multiple professionals (or even firms), and the wide range of leisure and recreation time allows us to fill evenings and weekends with activities.

It would seem that more time is making us more productive… but also accentuating the need for better time management and decision-making

With that in mind, I would like to offer seven simple but Prepaid Hosting effective time-management tips you can use to get more from every minute you spend online:

1. Remember what’s important.

This is an old piece of time-management advice, but one that still holds a lot of weight in today’s world. If you don’t know what your most important goals and priorities are, then it’s hard to know how to spend your time efficiently. This matters more than you might think, especially when it’s so easy to spend time on social media sites, read industry news, or just kill an hour playing your favourite Facebook game. If it truly isn’t important, or if it doesn’t allow you to take a break from the pressures of real life, make time for something else that is.

2. Get more organized.

This is also classic advice, but something that takes on an entirely new meaning Label Hair when you’re surrounded by laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Spending time looking at the same document or email again and again is a waste; devise a filing and bookmark system that is consistent throughout all your devices so that you’ll always be able to reach and access details exactly when you need them.

3. Take a trip to OHIO.

If you don’t know already, OHIO stands for “Only Handle It Once.” Everything that comes into your inbox should be tasked, tossed, transferred to someone else, or tended to as needed. That means nothing should ever be put off to be dealt with at some unspecified time in the future – that’s how regret, procrastination,Business and missed opportunities creep into our lives. (Hat tip to Karen Turner for teaching me that a few years ago.)

4. Learn to scan info.

You don’t have to be a speed-reader to understand that it’s important to scan some long documents and pay closer line-by-line attention to others. The fact is that most of us get more information and detail than we could realistically deal with on any given day. Get good at scanning items, making notes of Boat a few important points, and then moving on. You’ll save tons of time and avoid a lot of stress in the long run.

5. Focus your energy where it mattersTechnologies
.

I mentioned earlier that you have to know what’s important to you. Some priorities will be given to you by an employer (or even by customers). Others you’ll determine for yourself. Either way, spend your time online working toward the goals and priorities that actually matter. Otherwise, you’ll easily find yourself clicking from one thing to the next simply for fun. There’s nothing wrong with that in very small doses, but it isn’t a great way to enhance your life or career

6. Remember that educational time isn’t wasted.

Here is one thing a lot of busy professionals tend to overlook: When you spend time learning to use an app, or develop a new skill, you may be taking a little bit from your schedule now, but you are also giving yourself many more minutes back later. In other words, that little extra time it takes to get something right in the short term is well worth it, when you figure what will be saved or gained in the long run.

7. Don’t always be online

Unless you are crucial to the security of the free worldAtlas RTV (in which case I sorely hope you’re doing something more important than reading this article), you don’t need to be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In fact, always being online numbs you to all of the information you could otherwise be absorbing. So, learn to step away and take some time off; it might feel like a guilty pleasure, but you’ll be doing the right thing for yourself and your company in the long run.

We all have the same 24 hours to use each day,Who owns your network regardless of whether we spend them online or off. I hope the short bits of advice I’ve given you here can help you make the most of your time on the web… and to enjoy the precious moments you have away from it as well.

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Tips for Managing and Maximizing Content in Social Media

Jay Baer uses this analogy to explain the idea that content is the main substance in any digital marketing campaign; social media channels ignite that content and help it to spread. What this means for marketers is that content must be at the core of your digital marketing. initiatives. Content is what people find when searching on Google. Content is what people share on social media channels. Content is how brands tell their story and connect with customers. And content is what ultimately drives leads and sales.

But you can’t just create a video, post it on Facebook, and expect it to generate tons of awareness, engagement, and sales. You need to put thought and structure behind the content you create and share on social media profiles. Start with these seven tips for managing and maximizing content in social media.

1. Know Your Audience If you don’t know who your audience is, how will you ever connect with them? Most brands have an understanding of their audience’s demographics – age, gender, HHI, ethnicity. But you have to go beyond these statistics to get a better understanding of their interests, needs, mindsets, and behaviors to truly make a connection and become an important part of their lives.

See these concepts in action at ClickZ Live New York 2014:

In addition to the standard methods of audience discovery – industry research, focus groups, and brand surveys – you can also use social media data to build audience personas. Social monitoring software, Facebook Custom Audience, social referrals to your website, and question-and-answer sites are just a few of the sources you can use to learn more about your audience.

2. Provide Value Your content must provide some type of value to your audience. That value could be education, increased productivity, entertainment, or cost savings. To the consumer, it shouldn’t seem like marketing, even though we know it is by nature. It’s providing long-term awareness and brand recall. It’s making sure your brand is right there with the consumer at each step along their path to purchase so that when it comes time to make a decision, you’re the first brand that comes to mind.

Take Charmin’s Sit or Squat app, for example. This Seinfeld-ish app allows you to find which public restrooms in your vicinity are clean (i.e., safe sitters) and which are dirty (i.e., strictly squatters). Any user can add and rate public restrooms, include a review, tag various amenities (e.g., handicap accessible, free), and upload photos.

charmin-clickz-march2

Charmin isn’t selling anything with Sit or Squat. Not one roll of toilet paper can be purchased through the app, and they do not try to push any sales Email messaging. The purpose of the app is that when a consumer is standing in front of the wall of toilet paper at Target, desperately trying to figure out if they need grandma-quilted, ocean-breeze-scented, quadruple-ply, or pillow-top TP, they’ll reach for the Charmin because they remember that Charmin helped them find a clean bathroom on their last vacation.

3. Expand Your Conversation Brands, especially B2B brands, have a tendency to be egocentric. They talk only about themselves ad nauseam – their products, services, features, benefits, staff, culture, financials, and on and on. Customers don’t want to hear about this. They’re egocentric, too, and want to know what else your brand can do for them.

To broaden the conversation and take the spotlight off your brand, you should create content pillars. Content pillars provide a creative filter and platform that is rooted in customer needs, brand voice and personality, and business objectives. These pillars represent a starting point that allows you to live within your brand’s core environment – your products/services – while also stretching into adjacent, relevant, and credible aspects of your customers’ lives. An example would be Whole Foods talking about fighting poverty in the United States, or General Electric providing fascinating content with their #6SecondScience campaign. Or even Method’s fun and engaging #DirtyLittleSecrets campaign. These topics are not directly about their core products, but they are compelling to the brands’ core audiences.

method-clickz-march3 Method’s #DirtyLittleSecrets campaign sticks to their core mission of designing green cleaning products, but has broad appeal for inspiring user-generated content.

4. Look Beyond Facebook and Twitter Creating content doesn’t automatically mean users will come consume it and engage with your brand as a result. You must draw attention to the content through owned, earned, and paid methods across a variety of channels, not just the big ones.

Ask yourself how else you can maximize the value of each piece of content and each campaign: Can you make the content more visible and sharable on your website? What other social channels does your audience use besides Facebook and Twitter? Can you use sites that accept submissions of specific content, like Visual.ly for infographics or Online-Sweepstakes.com for contests? How much are you able to pay to distribute your content on sites such as Outbrain or Taboola? Are you using Google+ to link to content on your website? (If the answer is no, I urge you to start today. Google+, while lacking in the engagement department, has a major impact on organic ranking.)

5. Know Your Dimensions People share things not only because those things look good, but because those things make them look good. If your content is cropped inappropriately or appears blurry and pixelated, it’s probably not going to get shared by users on social media channels. Be aware of how your content will display on different social networks and devices by understanding the various dimension of each channel, and how your audience most often finds that content.

6. Don’t Ignore the SEO Impact It’s no longer accurate to talk about the “intersection of social and SEO.” These two services don’t just intersect; they coalesce into a united effort to increase findability across all digital platforms. Therefore, separating these efforts into siloes and different departments will not only hurt you today, but certainly in the future.

Google’s Matt Cutts has indicated that social signals – Facebook Likes, retweets, pins, LinkedIn shares – don’t directly impact the ranking of content, but they do help to increase traffic and generate links, which are key factors in ranking. Cutts has also stated that they are Ipad Tableton weighting the ranking of identities, meaning that a thought leader in a particular vertical would receive higher ranking for queries on that subject.

What Google has not openly addressed is how much weight they are giving to Google+ pages and posts. But they are – a lot. Enough so, that I had to mention it again in this article. The key takeaways for Google+: Create a Google+ page. Add publisher markup to your website. Actively post links back to your site content (at least once every 72 hours). And increase your circle count.

7. Measure Success Before creating a single piece of content or posting one Facebook message, determine the objective of your content and what metrics you will use to measure performance.

Start by identifying the important –
Economy –metrics within five buckets: awareness, consumption, engagement, actions, and SEO impact. While the specific metrics in each bucket will vary based on your strategy, objectives, and resources, some common ones are:

  • Awareness -impressions, reach, mentions
  • Consumption – - clicks,visits, referrals
  • Engagement – likes, shares, +1s, time on site
  • Actions – leads/sales, PDF downloads, newsletter sign-ups, site navigation
  • SEO Impact – increased organic site traffic and activity, increased organic backlinks,
    Ignite Your Site increased engagement on specific content pieces

By learning who your audience is and how you can provide value to them, identifying additional distribution channels, integrating SEO and creating a solid plan for measurement, you can ensure your content has enough fuel Web SEO to inflame across social media and other digital Flight Guide channels.

3 STEPS TO BETTER TIME MANAGEMENT OF YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

When talking about social media marketing I’m often asked “how much time does this take,” or “how do you find the time to do all this twittering,” or “is your mom ever disappointed that you never put your college education to work?”

Social Media Doesn’t Have to be a Time Suck

Yes, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites can bring your productivity to a screeching halt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re avoiding these sites to avoid temptation, you’re missing out on important conversations and networking opportunities that can help grow your business.

The risk of missed opportunities outweighs the risk of lost time, especially since you control the clock. Here are three steps to better manage your time on social media activities.

Step 1: Determine Why You Use Social Media

Not surprisingly, people use social media for different business purposes depending on their industry, company and job title. Are you using social media for research, networking, sales & marketing, or some combination?

If research is your goal you’ll want to find blogs, podcasts and news sites that provide quality information and subscribe to their RSS feeds. What is RSS, you ask? Watch this video to find out.

If networking is your focus you’ll want to build a community and/or an audience. You’ll want to be active on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as building a following on Twitter.

If you’re driven by sales & marketing, you’ll want to concentrate on getting your brand and products out there, perhaps by creating videos, blogging, and engaging customers on social networking sites.

Step 2: Develop a Strategy to Manage Your Time Wisely

Once you have determined your purpose for using social media for business, you can develop a strategy that supports that purpose. Here are a few ideas that will help you tame social media:
◾Create a schedule. Block out time to tweet, use social networking sites, blog or create YouTube videos. Conversely, when it’s time to write proposals or meet clients, shut down these sites and concentrate on the rest of your business.
◾Focus your activities where they’ll have the most impact. First, go where your customers go. I favor Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but perhaps your customers are on MySpace or a small, vertical networking site that focuses on your industry. Secondly, although everyone wants a lot of connections, quality trumps quantity. Too many connections can be a distraction; don’t feel you have to friend, follow back or become linked in with everyone.
◾Keep to your purpose. Most of what goes on within the social media sphere is just that, “social.” It’s hard not to get sucked in to a “must see” YouTube video, a link that a friend posted on Facebook or seeing what’s hot on Digg. RESIST THE URGE! Follow up with friends after work and bookmark NSFW links for after the kids go to bed.

Step 3: Use Tools to Maximize Your Productivity

Scientists often say our ability to use tools separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Personally, I think it’s our well-developed sense of sarcasm and keen fashion sense. Regardless, you can use tools to better manage the time you spend on social media activities. Here are a few of my favorites:
◾Ping.fm: Many social media sites allow you to update your status, but answering “what are you doing?” across multiple sites gets old fast. Ping.fm allows you to update your status across dozens of sites through a simple interface.
◾TubeMogul.com: Video has become an essential part of any business’s marketing plans. Don’t just stop at YouTube, though. TubeMogul is like Ping.fm for video: it uploads your video to multiple sites and then provides you viewing statistics from each site.
◾RSS: Use RSS to track your favorite blogs, podcasts, gurus, and search terms on social media sites and have them delivered to Google Reader, Bloglines, or the newsreader of your choice.
◾FriendFeed: Feeling scattered across multiple Web sites and accounts? Use FriendFeed to collect many online activities–blogs, photos, videos, social networking and more–in just one place so people can follow you. (You can control what gets shared, ‘natch.) Further, you can easily follow experts in your field who have created their own profiles at FriendFeed.

In Conclusion

To manage your time wisely you need to have a good grasp on why you’re using social media, develop a strategy to keep you focused, and utilize a growing number of tools that will help you maximize your effort. However, the best line of defense against social media time suck is you.

Know what you want to get out of social media, know how much time you can put into it, and then make your decisions wisely.

If you’d like help developing a social media strategy for your business contact flyte today.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

v
Social media marketing is an important aspect of promoting your small business. In order to set up an effective social media marketing strategy, a basic understanding of the relationship between business and social media is needed.

To help you learn the benefits of using social media for your small business, we’ve created an eBook, “Top 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.” This eBook provides you with all the necessary tools to build a strong social media marketing presence for your small business. Check out the full eBook below.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses:
1.Use social media to sell your product
2.Join Twitter
3.Increase Twitter followers
4.Build relationships by following back
5.Figure out # of tweets per day
6.Tweet at optimal times
7.Join LinkedIn
8.LinkedIn company pages vs LinkedIn profiles
9.Share engaging content on your Facebook page

Tips for excellent social media management

business MediaThere are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to a brand’s social media strategy. Here are the basic rules.

Be immediately responsive
If a social media follower has a question or a complaint, the worst thing to do is sit on your hands. We all know social media management is a job, but your fans and followers see it as a conversation. If you’re not responding to your audience, your brand comes off as lazy and uninterested. That’s no way to build a following.

Don’t be defensive if there’s negativity
If a fan is complaining or insulting your brand, it’s tempting to jump in and defend your livelihood. That’s one of the worst mistakes you can make. Obviously, respond to respectful criticism, but take a back seat when there is outright unwarranted negativity. Let’s face it; it’s going to happen. The best solution is to let your fans jump in and defend your brand for you.

Make sure they’re talking about your brand
Evaluate the landscape and observe how often and at what frequency your brand is being discussed. Are you staying relevant? Who’s your competition on social? How are you measuring up with fan communication? Answer these questions and fix your errors. Reviewing the landscape is an ongoing process.

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26 Tips for Managing a Social Media Community

By Debbie Hemley

Do you wonder how to go about exercising good social etiquette and managing your social networking communities, all at the same time?

Social media community management has expanded into a growing field and there’s a lot to think about.

In this post, I’ll cover 26 tips, an A-Z guide, on ways to manage your companys presence.

#1: Answer Questions

With more and more of your customers participating on social networking platforms, businesses need to be doing much more than posting their own updates. Companies must also be willing to answer questions.

A recent survey organized by InSites Consulting found that eight out of ten American companies answer client questions and complaints via social media. The survey shows that US companies are very successful in answering questions via social media: “83 percent of companies indicate they always deal with questions or complaints sent to them via social media. Still, only 54 percent of the companies in this survey also talk to and actively participate in online conversations with consumers.”

What about your business? Are you answering or avoiding questions?

#2: Bring People to Your Website Through Social Media

Sometimes with all the talk about social media, businesses may briefly forget one of their original goals for initiating a social strategy—namely, bringing customers and prospects to your company website.

E P writes, “If you are a small business owner, social media will be greatly beneficial in attracting customers to your website… Very few consumers make a purchase the first time they view a website. The initial visit may be enough to capture their attention, but you also need to gain their trust and convince them that your product is a better buy than that of your competitor.”

Silvia offers two recommendations: 1) keep your customers informed by updating your information regularly and 2) communicate with your customers. “If a consumer posts a comment or question on your page, be sure to answer back as quickly as possible. Not only will this show them that you can provide them with excellent customer service, but speaking to them directly will also help to gain their trust, showing them that there is a person behind the business.”

#3: Cultivate Stories on How Customers Use Your Products and Services

You’ve followed the advice on monitoring your social media activity. You see that a customer tweeted about your product or posted a photo on Pinterest. They like you! They really do! Well, that’s all really exciting. And maybe you’ve even retweeted the message for the world to see. But why stop there? Why not be more of a brand storyteller and share those experiences further?

Vice president of brand marketing at IdeaPaint, says her company not only retweets and reposts blogs and social mentions from customers, staff members also share customers’ photos of their products that they’ve culled from social media sites to use as success stories. “We are much more interested in talking about who our customers are and how they use the product than we are about just talking about ourselves.”

How can you use social mentions to tell your success stories?

idea paint

IdeaPaint’s blog post about how Skiver Advertising was using their product after coming across an article online.

#4: Divide and Conquer

Depending on the type of products and services your business provides, you may actually benefit from maintaining more than one Facebook page or Twitter profile.

“Mars manufactures the candy brands M&Ms, Snickers, Dove and Mars… all of the brands are positioned together on the same corporate website, creating branding that is confusing because the subpages are each dedicated to a single brand. Consequently, the overall message is also confusing because the Mars corporate brand overrides all the others.

“The good news is that M&Ms, Snickers, Dove, and Mars can each have a page on Facebook and Twitter that is completely independent of the others with its own branding as well.

“Web 2.0 has created a marketplace that is highly segmented and marketers are well advised to take this into account. As a result, B2B companies have an opportunity to optimize their online marketing strategies by not only creating a page for the umbrella brand, but also by creating individualized social networking pages for each of the products and services that they offer.”

mars

Companies with diverse products can use social media to segment and target the communication for their brands.

#5: Elicit Responses

We’ve all probably heard it said a zillion times that engagement is key to social media community management. But the question we may find ourselves struggling with day in and day out is: What will be most effective? Conversen sums it up very nicely with this advice: “A social campaign should ask questions that cause consumers to stop, reflect and respond.”

When you look back at the questions you’ve posed in articles, tweets, or Facebook updates, which were the ones that generated not only the most responses in numbers, but also qualitatively, the most reflective and insightful answers? Can you do that again tomorrow? And the day after that?

#6: Fans and Followers, Really?

Someone may have once told you that having more fans and followers should be one of your key goals for managing your online communities. After all, numbers matter, don’t they?

Jay Baer hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “Your customers don’t innately want to follow your company on Twitter or friend you on Facebook, or read your blog, or watch your videos. There are mountains of great content online unencumbered by a corporate dynamic. Thus, embracing your company and its content is not a high priority.”

Jay says it’s about rationale. Companies that can create compelling reasons for their customers to connect with them will succeed on the social web. And those that don’t emphasize helpfulness and relevancy will fail.

How can your company be more helpful and more relevant? What can you say that will give your customers good reasons to connect with you?

#7: Generate Your Content Strategy Over Time

Let’s say your team sat down three months ago and created your content strategy to take you through the rest of 2012. And your analytics and demographic reports from recent weeks all look good. End of story? Not so fast. Your community may be moving and reacting to something that happened yesterday or better yet, tomorrow.

As Rich Brooks writes, “A keyword analysis and social media demographics will only take you so far. You’ll need to evolve your content strategy over time, based on what’s going on in your industry, with your audience and in the world around you.”

Revisit your content strategy frequently and be flexible about what and when you post.

#8: Honesty is Still One of the Best Policies

writes, “Your community members invest a lot of time in your brand. You owe it to them to treat them as equals and to be honest with them.”

Deborah offers three best practices for being transparent with your community:

  • If you’re not sure how to respond to something or don’t know whether you’re even allowed to address it, discuss it with your team and your superiors first.
  • Address criticism and rumor head on without sweeping them under the rug.
  • Respond to questions and inquiries honestly. At times, you may have to reveal information that hasn’t been released to the rest of the world in order to rectify a situation.

deb ngs book

Deborah Ng’s book is a valuable resource for smart community managers!

#9: Ingenuity is Memorable

In  article about creative social media marketing case studies, he shows how seven companies have used their ingenuity to create memorable community experiences.

The eight key lessons we can learn from these businesses are:

  • Take advantage of photos and videos.
  • Showcase your customers.
  • Enable social sharing on all of your content.
  • Google+ will impact search results.
  • YouTube is far more advanced than you may realize.
  • Optimize your content for mobile readers.
  • Give people a reason to engage.
  • Think about starting a LinkedIn group for your industry or niche.

ingenuity

Sharpie was one of the seven companies profiled for creativity in Phil’s post.

#10: Joke in Good Taste

Tips for using humor in your social media activities. As he says, “Humor can be a great way to get people’s attention.” But humor can also be a little tricky.

Jason writes, “The target market must always be considered. Running tests and focus groups to gather feedback is always a great idea. Try to use an online survey to test your attempt at humor against an internal audience before you send it out. Comedy is subjective, so don’t expect to please everyone.”

#11: Kick-Start with Good Content

Getting started on a new platform? Still testing the waters to see whether it’s the right place for your business to be?

One suggestion that many seasoned social media marketers will tell you is to come out of the gate with loads of good content before you start promoting your new presence.

Let’s say your blog is shiny and new. Wait until you have a respectable number of good-quality posts (e.g., 3-5 thoroughly researched and well-written articles) before spreading the word. Take some time to generate momentum.

#12: Leverage Your Networks

Community managers need to know what’s happening on all of their networks. Even if you’re not the Twitter manager, for example, you should have a good idea of the conversations, tweets and hashtags taking place that involve your company and industry. At this point, social platforms work hand-in-hand with one another.

Conversations flow freely from one network to another and in order to be effective, social community managers need to be able to leverage their networks and bounce off one another.

#13: Marketing Isn’t a Bad Word

Community managers often have to work extra-hard to avoid marketing faux pas—being perceived as using social networking platforms exclusively for business marketing purposes. But let’s call a spade a spade. When social media marketing is done right, it’s not a bad word nor out of line. Ultimately, it’s how businesses need to communicate in the 2010s.

When asked, “What should be the ultimate goal of social media participation for businesses? Is it to create awareness, drive traffic to your website, sell product, branding, or something entirely different?”

He answered, “Businesses have different goals they want from each element of marketing. It’s no different for social media, as it is just another marketing tool and medium. Marketing fundamentals still apply. For some, brand awareness is paramount. For others, it’s increased sales.

“Any marketing strategy and the resulting tactics should keep in mind the two key fundamentals: 1) the target audience and 2) the goals. Social media is not a magic bullet and should be used where appropriate just like television, radio or email marketing.”

Remember your target audience and goals, and you’ll be fine!

#14: Never Say Never

Some days the proliferation of social media feels as if it happened overnight. One day many businesses were claiming social media wasn’t the right strategy for them.

In a few short years, businesses of all shapes and sizes have active presences on multiple platforms. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., went from not making sense to being commonplace destinations. Who knows what will come down the pike next? With that in mind, it’ll serve you best to stay open, flexible and go with the flow.

#15: Originality vs. Saying What Everyone Else Says

“A great content marketing strategy is key for social media success. You’ve probably seen people sharing others’ content, sometimes via RSS feeds, Paper.ly pages, retweets/shares, or by direct linking. Those are great strategies to provide useful content to your audience. They can be an adequate stop-gap measure while you build your own content, but it’s very very important in social media to provide original content.”

Vicki recognizes that not everyone feels that they have the time or expertise to create original content and offers these suggestions:

  • Review a product, book, movie, event, research study or website.
  • Interview an influencer.
  • Create a video from a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Be quotable by learning to say meaningful things in short blurbs.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is (e.g., keep blog posts to single ideas, 150-300 words, keep your videos 30 seconds to 3 minutes tops, keep your interview to 15 minutes). Just start. You’ll get better as you go and you’ll be original.

#16: Power to the People—Write On!

OK, so maybe this isn’t what John Lennon meant when he wrote the lyrics to the song, “Power to the People.”

As a social community manager, you walk a fine line—being in charge of the content that your business posts and maintaining a number of presences, responding to and cleaning up inappropriate comments all the while, working your hardest to listen and respond to your community.

At the end of the day, after you’ve handled all of the necessary responsibilities, the company still needs to continue to develop content on an ongoing basis.

Provides tips for stellar social media community management and offers this sound advice regarding content: “Share remarkable, targeted content based on needs/interests of individual communities.

“Without remarkable content, your brand will have nothing valuable to share, and your community members will either dwindle, flock elsewhere, or not even bother to participate in the first place.

“This content should not only be remarkable, but it should also be easily shareable so your community members can expand its reach by sharing it with connections in their networks.”

#17: Qualified and Experienced Decisions

Marc Meyer points out that social media has matured. He writes, “Yes there are still lots of nuances to be learned and still lots of totally unqualified people screwing things up, but that’s in every industry, right?

“The difference between five years ago when I first started and now is that there are more and more qualified people out there who are able to make educated and qualified and experienced decisions on what to do with social media initiatives. And the results speak for themselves.”

Are the most qualified and experienced people involved in the day-to-day operations of your social networking communities? If not, how can you get them involved?

#18: Respect Cultures

Several months ago, National Public Radio (NPR) gave its journalists Guidelines that included social media policies.

Jeff Sonderman wrote about his impressions of the policies and how they can serve as a blueprint for other news organizations.

As community managers, there’s a valuable takeaway message for all of us in this passage from NPR’s social media policy:

“To get the most out of social media we need to understand those (social media) communities. So we respect their cultures and treat those we encounter online with the same courtesy and understanding as anyone we deal with in the offline world. We do not impose ourselves on such sites. We are guests and behave as such.”

npr ethics

Great social media advice from NPR!

#19: Shout-Out and Give Thanks

Lightspan Digital has provided an insightful social media cheat sheet with loads of important daily social media workouts, including this one for Twitter:

“Give thanks—If someone retweets one of your tweets don’t forget to give thanks. Example: thanks for the shout-out @manamical :)

Check out their cheat sheet for more great advice.

social media workouts

Daily workouts for Twitter and Facebook.

#20: Things You Should Know About Your Audience

Jam Moore writes that many businesses have the problem of using social media tools without first doing their homework to understand their potential audience.

She says, “You must plan before you act in social media if you want to have a positive return on your investment. Random acts of marketing (RAMs) and social media (RASMs) will get you nothing but in the red come month-end!”

Pam suggests eight things you should know about your audience to create content that inspires:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What does your product or service do to minimize or mitigate their pain?
  • How can your product or service inspire and help them personally and professionally?
  • How is your product or service positioned?
  • What is your zoom factor? (We’ll discuss more in #26.)
  • What is your competition up to? (We’ll explore further in #24.)
  • What’s your audience up to, both online and offline?

#21: Update Frequently

We touched upon this point briefly in #2 about the need to update and create new content frequently.

If you ask ten people about what the right frequency of updates would be, you’ll likely receive ten different answers. What works for one business may simply not work for another due to a number of considerations such as staffing, type of products/services and a host of other reasons.

Bottom line here is that we all need to find what works best for us to keep the content fresh and the conversations going.

Ask yourself: What does your schedule consist of? Is it working? If not, what could you be doing differently? Have you looked at the frequency of updates your competitors are making?

#22: Verify Information

As social community managers, we often share information that others have published and pass it along to our readers.

It’s important to be careful and discriminating about the information we share; after all, it’s our reputation too that’s at stake. You’ll want to verify social media content.

Patrick Meier offers tips for how to do this by checking out the:

  • Bio on Twitter
  • Number of tweets
  • Number of followers
  • Number following
  • Retweets
  • Location
  • Timing
  • Social authentication
  • Media authentication
  • Engage the source and ask for the source of the report

Patrick states too that speed is often vital and trying to filter and triangulate (looking for multiple reports from unconnected sources) can be helpful.

#23: Wonder Out Loud

In the preceding tip, we talked about the necessity of verifying information. But at times, social media lends itself to wondering out loud. Speculating. Making educated guesses. Asking questions. Harnessing opinions. And, yes, as Dragnet Detective Joe Friday might have said, “Just the facts, ma’am. Nothing but the facts.”

There is a time and a place for making conversation, just as long as you don’t misrepresent it as fact!

#24: E(x)amine How Your Audience Engages With Your Competition

suggests that you can learn much more about your audience by understanding how they engage with and react to your competition.

She poses these questions:

  • How is your audience engaging with your competition?
  • What is your competition doing that you aren’t?
  • What type of response are they receiving online and offline from your target audiences? Is it different than how your audience is engaging with you?
  • Does your competition have a consistent tone, message and brand? If not, how can you enhance yours to zoom faster?
  • Is your competition engaging in a way their audience expects them to? Casual when they’re expecting professional or opposite?
  • Why are they doing such things differently? Do they have a competitive differentiator because of this or do you have the leg-up? Remember, different isn’t always better. You may be on the right track.

What are the weaknesses in how your competition is engaging and leveraging social media that you can use to your advantage?

#25: You vs. Your Customers

says, “Sometimes we overlook the fact that brands and companies have a totally different perception of the role of social media—and how it can help their business—from that of their customers.”

He refers to the infographic of a survey conducted by the IBM that shows the top reasons consumers interact with companies via social sites vs. why businesses think consumers follow them.

Consumers interact for:

  • Discounts
  • Purchases
  • Reviews and product rankings
  • General information
  • Exclusive information
  • Learn about new products
  • Customer service
  • Event participation
  • To feel connected
  • Submit ideas for new products/services
  • To be part of a community

Steve whittles the message down to what he calls the “golden rule”: “The secret to marketing with social media is to always provide value.”

perception gap

From the survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value.

#26: Zoom Agents Lead the Way

We touched on this tip  about integrating social media activities, but it’s worth repeating here.

The social zoom agent, as described by Pam Moore, is “someone who takes on the responsibility for the success of becoming a social business. They will own the success of the engagement, content, approach, strategy and integration.”

As a community manager, you may be the sole zoom agent or one of many for your business. In any event, you’ll need to care deeply about your social communities.

Ideally you will feel invigorated and inspired and will have a sense of pride about the value of your work and what you’re able to contribute. Community management is a relatively new field and it’s an accomplishment to be in this role. Go on and lead the way!

Social media

Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals.

Social media differ from traditional/industrial media in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. There are many effects that stem from internet usage. According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011. For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income, as discussed in Tang, Gu, and Whinston